The Pierce County Council approved an expansion of its COVID-19 Emergency Small Business Relief Loan Program, allowing for more businesses to apply, at its April 21 meeting.

The council — with all but Chairman Douglas Richardson and Jim McCune attending remotely via video — unanimously passed Proposal No. 2020-53, allocating $3 million for small business zero-interest loans in which businesses can receive $1,000 per employee, up to $20,000 in total.

The program serves businesses in Pierce County — both incorporated and unincorporated — of 20 employers or fewer. Businesses that have experienced a change in ownership within the last 12 months may be eligible for the loans.

The council created the program on March 24, allocating $640,000 for small businesses of 10 or fewer employees in unincorporated Pierce County. The program, administered by the Pierce County Economic Development Department, was designed to keep businesses in unincorporated Pierce County in operation and protect jobs threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. The department started reviewing loan applications on March 26.

“As a council, we are concerned with the significant health impacts of COVID-19, as well as the vitality of our communities,” Richards said in a news release announcing the expansion of the program. “Our small businesses are the heart of the economic foundation of Pierce County.”
An application and information on the program can be found at: www.piercecountywa.gov/6770/Emergency-Small-Business-Relief-Loan-Pro, by emailing PCSBRL@piercecountywa.gov or by calling 253-798-6150.

The council, through an emergency biennial budget supplement, also increased funding for the Emergency Food Network, providing an additional $500,000 to the $250,000 previously allocated last month for food banks in Pierce County.

In other business, the council passed an ordinance authorizing the commencement of condemnation proceedings related to acquiring property for County Road Project 5731, Tehaleh Boulevard East and McCutcheon Road East to Falling Water Boulevard East. Members passed an ordinance regarding adding solar energy uses to development regulations. They passed a resolution authorizing the Pierce County Executive to apply for funding assistance for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program.